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Seattle’s 3 Bizarre Tower-Homes

Posted by Johnine Larsen on February 9, 2016
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What’s in the very top of the iconic Smith Tower? What about those towers on the Fremont Bridge? Why does Ballard have a lighthouse nowhere near the water?

Answer: Residents.

People live in strange places in Seattle. Places that, if we didn’t know better, we never would have imagined anyone calling “home.” Places like these three bizarre tower-homes.


Smith Tower


The 1914 Smith Tower once held the title of tallest building on the West Coast. It still earns an iconic spot on the Seattle skyline, and tourists and locals alike can experience the grandiose architecture, gold-adorned lobby, and antique elevators. But one question people always ask: what’s at the top?

No one knew for a long time. But eleven years ago, Petra Franklin and her kids moved in. They turned the pyramid pinnacle of the Smith Tower into a two-story apartment. An incredible apartment.

Smith Tower_2_peak

It’s a two-bed, two-bath home with a renovated kitchen and a gorgeous Dale Chihuly chandelier. But the best part is the glass globe at the very, very top. Climb a 38-step cast-iron stairwell, past the chandelier, and you find yourself in a glass bubble. It’s a cozy space with 360-views of the city.

Jealous? We are, too. But Petra is only 11 years into her 20-year lease, and if she had her way, she and her family would live in their tower-home forever.

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Fremont Bridge Tower

The next time you cross Fremont’s blue-and-orange bridge, look up. You’ll see four boxy control towers. One contains the bridge operator. Two sit empty. The fourth could be your new studio.

The Office of Arts & Culture wants to fill the northwest bridge tower with a writer in residence. The tower-studio measures 13 feet by 8 feet with 10-foot ceilings. It comes with a desk, chair, overhead lights, and A/C—and of course: 360-degree windows with beautiful views of Fremont, the bridge, and the canal. Do you write? You can apply!

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Ballard’s Lighthouse House


This isn’t a real lighthouse, but it is a very real home. The place looks like a lighthouse from the outside, complete with a narrow, windowed tower, a 360-degree railing on the top, and even a functional light.

But this lighthouse sits too far from the water to be any use for wayward ships. It’s an eclectic gem we might have expected from Fremont, that capitol of Seattle quirk, but instead, you’ll find this lighthouse-house on the streets of Ballard. And yup, you’ll find someone living there.


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    Sarah Donaldson
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